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What is the Treatment for Plague?

Discover the diagnosis and treatment of plague disease, covering symptoms assessment, laboratory tests, and immediate care for urgent medical attention. Stay informed about this infectious disease.

  • 05 Feb 2024
  • 3 min read

Plague, an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, primarily circulates in small mammals and their fleas. Transmission occurs through flea bites, and humans can contract the disease via bites from infected fleas, direct exposure to bodily fluids or contaminated materials, and inhalation of respiratory droplets. Plague manifests in severe forms, especially in its septicaemic and pneumonic forms, with a case-fatality ratio of 30% to 100% if untreated. The pneumonic form, fatal if not promptly addressed, spreads rapidly through airborne droplets, leading to severe person-to-person epidemics. Historically, the "Black Death" pandemic in the fourteenth century claimed over 50 million lives in Europe. In this article, we’ll be explore the main forms of plague disease treatment.

What is Plague Disease Treatment?

The first-line treatment for plague disease includes Gentamicin and fluoroquinolones. Plague disease treatment lasts 10 to 14 days until two days after fever subsides. Healthcare providers may switch to oral therapy once the patient shows improvement, ensuring effective management with appropriate medications. 

The treatment and diagnosis of plague are discussed below:

1. Diagnosis:

  • Symptoms Assessment: Healthcare providers rely on symptoms for a probable plague diagnosis.
  • Outdoor Exposure: Possible exposure during recent outdoor activities or travel is considered.
  • Animal Contact: Contact with sick or deceased animals, known flea bites, or exposure to rodents is assessed.

2. Laboratory Tests:

While waiting for lab results, treatment begins promptly. Fluid from buboes, blood samples, lung mucous, and cerebrospinal fluid are collected to identify Yersinia pestis bacteria.

3. Treatment:

i. Early Treatment Initiation:

Treatment typically commences in the hospital once plague is suspected using antibiotics. Generally, the following antibiotics are used:

  • Gentamicin.
  • Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others).
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro).
  • Levofloxacin.
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox).
  • Chloramphenicol.

ii. Appointment Preparation:

Plague symptoms are sudden and severe, requiring immediate attention. If coughing or sneezing, wearing a mask is crucial during the appointment. A visit to the emergency room is likely, with a specialist in infectious disease consulted for suspected plague.

Report travel history or potential exposure to rodents or dead animals. Note symptom details, including onset. List all medications, vitamins, and supplements you have taken. Compile a list of questions to ask the healthcare provider.

Recognise the urgency of plague symptoms, ensuring immediate and prioritised medical attention.

Also read:


A healthcare provider is likely to make a probable diagnosis of plague disease by assessing symptoms, considering possible exposure during recent outdoor activity or travel, checking for contact with dead or sick animals, and evaluating known flea bites or exposure to rodents. Plague disease treatment, often covered by health insurance, will likely commence while waiting for laboratory test results to identify Yersinia pestis bacteria. Samples for tests, covered by health insurance, may include fluid from buboes, blood, mucous from the lungs, and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, ensuring comprehensive coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of this serious infectious disease.

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